All posts by Ikeddy Isiguzo

Ikeddy, author at Enugu Metro, is the Editor-in-Chief of Momentum Africa Media. An intellectual and sports journalism folk hero, Ikeddy served as Chair of Vanguard Nigeria's Editorial Board, a position he held for many years.

So Far So Soaring Eagles

In So Far, So Soaring Eagles, Ikeddy Isiguzo celebrates the unexpected victories from Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the ongoing African Cup of Nations football tournament in Cameroon.

AFCON 2022

THERE are still complaints about the Super Eagles – no entertaining football, poor ball control, poorer crosses.

I add mine, wastefulness with final balls.

Here are the good news. This is a team that changed coaches weeks back. It missed some top players because COVID-19 and injuries. And it had not played together. Yet, the new coach, Austine Eguavoen, has won maximum points from two matches at AFCON.

Among their victims are Egypt, which struggled to get points off Guinea-Bissau.

At least we are complaining from a point of leading our Group and without the high BP that it used to be watching the Super Eagles.

Let them continue doing what they are doing – winning matches.

Our attackers are almost giving opposing coaches nightmares. There is something about the productivity of a team that scored four goals in two matches from four different players, Iheanacho, Chukwueze, Simon, Awoniyi.

The Super Eagles are soaring.

I even heard that some are complaining that our goalkeeper Maduka Okoye is too handsome. What does one say to that?

History is beckoning for Nigeria to win the coach again under a second Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi being the first in 2013.

So Far So Soaring Eagles

Why are we celebrating #EndSARS?

IKEDDY ISIGUZO wonders why we are celebrating #EndSARS when the monster has only changed in name

IN a furious week of popular protests and caustic condemnations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, the listening government of President Muhammadu Buhari “ended” SARS as demonstrators had demanded. 

It is a pyrrhic victory.  

Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police, surprised many Nigerians, with the announcement of the dissolution of SARS whose officers are to be scattered in various units of the police.

The sketchy Sunday statement skirted issues around SARS.  It was the obvious indication that government either did not know what to do about SARS or was unwilling to confront an issue that has been before it for more than two years. In that period, chaotic, conflicting conversations about SARS showed that the government did not solve the problem – it expected it to go away. SARS grew on the wings of the unsupervised, mainly misappropriated, powers of security agents. Nothing is about to be done about it. Nigerians would be glad to see the government prove them wrong. 

Why are Nigerians celebrating? What comfort does Adamu’s vacuous statement provide? Was SARS the challenge Nigerians faced or the completely out of span police? 

Thousands of Nigerians are detained in SARS facilities. Adamu was silent on their fate. He had the same treatment about officers who had been accused of abusing their powers. Yet Adamu found opportunities in the policing crisis to make audacious claims about community policing, another matter that should have been for another day. 

Is the SARS that a mere Inspector-General of Police “ended” not the same one that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo speechified into a changed outfit in August 2018? Nigerians applauded. More SARS brutalities and killings followed. 

What Osinbajo directed was closer to a serious action on SARS, and the police. 

President Buhari tweeted his receipt of a report on reforming SARS on 3 June 2019. Was the report the product of the directives of the Acting President? We were not told. The buck ended on the President’s desk. 

The same President and the same Osinbajo have led Nigerians in circles in the past weeks with claims of their concerns and cares over the same SARS. There have been no mention of their failed efforts 

Has the current outcome not proven that the former initiatives were only impulsive responses to appease the public? Is there even an attempt to solve a problem?  None, as the government is delighted by its cosmetic approaches to issues. Is the President unaware that SARS is only a fraction of the same police that get away with all manners of maltreatment of Nigerians? Who treats cancers successfully with pain killers? 

The police need to be reformed, from the recruitment processes through training to binding Codes of Conduct on police officers. It would be just a beginning. There is an undisputed impression that the police are purpose-trained to unleash their frustrations on ordinary Nigerians. 

Central to unprofessional policing and the SARS it spawned is the enthronement of torture as the strategy for dealing with suspects, and anyone so liberally designated. Offending officers are never punished; constitutional provisions against torture and sanctity of life are not being enforced. 

Some police officers are celebrated as experts in torture and extortion. How did we get to a point that police officers take their victims to ATMs or “kidnap” them until families paid hundreds of thousands of Naira? Some bear POS machines for the same purpose. Those who are unable to pay are termed armed robbers. 

Other security agents have enshrined torture in their operations. They are emboldened by the knowledge that they would suffer no adverse consequences for their illegal actions.

Some victims do not survive. 

If government does not end torture and unpunished mis-conducts of security agents, there would be more protests after “ending” SARS. 

When the military, civil defence, and officers of other security agencies brutalise, extort, and kill Nigerians, should we be grateful that it was not SARS? What chimpanzee is replacing the monkey we called SARS? What happens to the “SARS” in other security agencies?  

President Buhari can be different. Leaning on constitutional provisions, he can solve the problem in more meaningful ways. He has not.  

Any pondering of the implications and importance of Section 14, 2 b of the 1999 Constitution – “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” – would return the verdict that our governments have not only failed Nigerians but SARS and the police.

Osinbajo rage on SARS is the latest hypocrisy


Ikeddy suggests that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s new rage on SARS operations could be seen as the administrations latest hypocrisy

WHO remembers  how enraged Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was and what he said about the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, only two years ago? A quick reminder here would be appropriate. 

Osinbajo as Acting President in a press statement of Tuesday 14 August 2018, which his media aide Laolu Akande authored as published by The Punch, among other media, said this:

“Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad that border on allegations of human rights violations, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has directed the Inspector General of Police to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS and ensure that any unit that will emerge from the process will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more. 

“The Acting President has also directed the IGP to ensure that all operatives in the emerging unit conduct their operations in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regard to International Human Rights Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects. 

“The operatives should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty. 

“In the meantime, the Acting President has directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel that will conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford members of the general public the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to ensuring redress.” 

Nigerians applauded a new SARS. The headlines praised Osinbajo’s sagacity, can-do attitude, and listening ears. 

Ibrahim Kpotum Idris was Inspector-General of Police then. Is it possible that the directives were domiciled with Idris whose tenure ended about a year ago? Idris is gone; we have to start all over. 

Mohammed Abubakar Adamu has made several SARS statements since succeeding Idris. One more statement after meeting with Vice President Osinbajo would not cost the IG any discomfort. 

It is not as if Adamu was not in the police management team when the Acting President issued those clear instructions. The difference could be in him hearing them as IG. 

What changed after two years of the Acting President’s order? Were the orders temporary in line with the status of Osinbajo’s office then? We would still hear about SARS. The government would issue more directives and the people would complain. Would we continue that way? 

Are SARS operations nationwide? The preponderance of complaints appears to be from certain parts of Nigeria. The investigations should look at the coverage of the operations, SARS training that results in the brutalities, and clearer mandates for SARS. 

Sunday 5 October 2020, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, and other media published Laolu Akande’s SARS statement on behalf of the Vice President, a Professor of Law: 

“The arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted. Today, I had a meeting with the IG and we reviewed several of these issues. The President is very concerned about it; he wants to see a reform. 

“You are probably aware that the IG has issued a statement looking at all these issues, in particular, the warning against the use of these tactical units such as SARS for purposes of doing anything other than anti-robbery. For example, he specifically said that you cannot have a situation where SARS says they are investigating cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. 

“Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or in their cars. He has said clearly that policemen must wear police uniforms. 

“You cannot say that because you belong to a tactical unit, you can dress in your casual clothing and be armed. 

“So, clearly, a reform is in the offing”. 

One would almost think the Vice President was addressing a fresh matter. No reference was made to the Human Rights Commission in the latest reform. Whatever happened to the investigation that the acting President ordered two years ago? Were his orders ignored? Has everyone forgotten? When will the running circles end? 

Sunday’s statement was weak compared with that of 2018. Even the more emphatic 2018 statement did not stop the killings. How could it when the suspects were never punished? Many of the stories about SARS from rural Nigeria do not make it to the media. 

Do we draw any confidence from the Vice President’s confirmation that President Mohammadu Buhari was very concerned about the atrocities of SARS? What comfort does the knowledge provide? 

Politicians hungry for media attention have discovered that SARS makes news. Have we also forgotten all the buzz around the death the death of Tiamiyu Kazeem, a young footballer with Remo Star Football Club that SARS killed on Saturday 22 February 2020? 

The House of Representatives on Thursday 5 March 2020 asked its Committees on Police Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights to investigate and ensure that “justice is not only done but seen to be done.” Inspector Olaniyi Ogunsoro, the officer who was involved in the death of Kazeem, was reportedly dismissed. 

Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun confirmed on his official social media account that the perpetrator behind the death of the footballer has been arrested in which justice must be done. Has justice been done? 

SARS and the anti-kidnapping units have their roles cut out.  They are doing great jobs. They have simply run out of span. Maybe those who they saved do not speak enough. What can we do without them? What will we do with them? 

Nothing in my position suggests that the stories about SARS are not true. They are and their frequency, the depth of the brutalities, the absence of deterrent measures on officers who step out of line are obvious. 

These hint at lack of supervision. Apparently, nobody is concerned enough about SARS to act beyond words or realise that drastic actions need to be taken. 

Challenges we face are with the police. SARS and other special units manifest the larger malaise of the police. Unless the police are overhauled – not change of uniform, not just wearing name tags, not one day of stated intentions, not pretences at anger – we would hear more from SARS, but unfortunately they would be the same sad stories that pre-dated the Buhari administration. 

In addressing these issues, we must avoid cutting the head as cure for headache. 

Nigerians are distressed that after two years, an acting presidential order, numberless end SARS marches, numerous media reports of SARS brutalities, our government of change cannot change the police. 

Our government prefers to blame SARS. Surprisingly, someone has forgotten to blame Goodluck Jonathan for SARS.

Nsikak Essien, Artist Extraordinaire and a Generous Spirit, Departs


NSIKAK Essien, a Lagos-based multimedia artist, was a celebrated at the Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu, where he was the 1979 Best Graduating Student in Painting, with a Distinction, and the Overall Best Graduating Student. Those were times when the quality of an artist’s works testified to the plaudits he got.

Broad Street,” one of Essien’s paintings

His works assumed increased religious intensity with themes like “A road-to-Damascus”, “Agape” in which Essien preached that, “People should always discover God in their lives as He is the only one that can fix their lives and usher in the much desired peace and harmony”.

He also won the 1979 Fasuyi Best National Art Graduate Prize in Painting.

Essien earned every bit of the high marks that came his way. He was a legend that IMT would not let him go. He was in IMT for another 12 years.

When our set arrived in IMT the same year he graduated, everyone knew him by reputation. IMT had retained him for his NYSC programme. The very ground he walked on might have as well sprouted master pieces. He was well regarded even by many of us who knew next to nothing about arts.

Serious, and minding his business, he often surprised with a ringing laughter when he let it out, otherwise he was too quiet for an artist. Both his students and colleagues spoke well of his generous spirit.

The news of his death on Wednesday, 29 July 2020 was another shock in this era of deaths. Just 63, Essien had buried his life in impacting the lives of many artists and influencing the art scene with his works that were places, like the Aso Rock, the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Before Abuja, his works adorned Dodan Barracks, the former seat of power in Lagos, and offices of some of Nigeria’s biggest organisations.

He spent 11 years lecturing in IMT before venturing into full-time studio practice experimenting with various media that finally themed in iconic explorations of religion, family, and love.

“Quite a few of my friends and I won’t be artists today without this guy. As giants go, there’s none greater, in the way he fired up our young minds, not by his words, but by the sheer grandeur of his God given ability,” Nnamdi Okonkwo, one of his students posted on Facebook. “To us then, and I still happen to feel the same way today, if God came down disguised as an artist, His name would be Nsikak. I believe there’s a special place for you above, Nsikak, earned not just by your legendary talent, but also by your generosity of spirit. Occupy it with the same mastery with which you wielded a pencil and paint brush! And thanks for the inspiration!,” Okonkwo’s tribute read.

His works assumed increased religious intensity with themes like “A road-to-Damascus”, “Agape” in which Essien preached that, “People should always discover God in their lives as He is the only one that can fix their lives and usher in the much desired peace and harmony”.

A 2016 two-week solo exhibition at the Nike Gallery, Lagos, with over 35 works, encapsulated Agape, and aligned with the previous year’s exhibition titled “Love Songs”. Most of those works aimed at getting human being to seek harmony in their relationships with each other and their Maker.

Essien was adept in his use of colours on different media. Once he began the provoking works on humanity and the Almighty, he ceased accepting commissioned works. His works on glass had rebuses of religion.

“My theme is Agape. The Bible says that God loves man, but, man has lost his relationship with God, and it, sometimes, looks as if God is punishing man. But no, our Father is a God of love. So, the exhibition was all about God’s love for man. We are not God’s invention. We are His creation, the work of His hands,” Essien had explained his 2016 exhibition.

Some of his works, among them the cover picture of this article, depicting Broad Street, Lagos, illustrate this article. One of them titled “Alert” shows the joy of a cart pusher on a particularly busy day that guarantees a lot of money.

Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Rolf Ree, who declared the 2016 exhibition open said, “Essien is a gifted artist who demonstrates uncanny insight, amazing creative imagination and the ability to bring his vision into manifestation. The results are both beautiful and compelling, as well as informed as they are by his gift.”

“I am happy to be here. Essien is one artist that has carved a niche for his works. It is a good show going by the works paraded here,’’ Ben Ikimi, art collector and builder said at the exhibition.

The Board of Trustees of the youth empowerment NGO, Life In My City Art Festival, LIMCAF, appointed Essien, one of the best known full-time studio artists of his generation, as its National Jury Panel Chairman in 2019. Members of the National Jury were Mr. Sam Ovraiti, a consumer artist and a notable Nigerian artist from the Auchi colourist school, Erasmus Onyishi, an experimentalist and one of the 10 artists El Anatsui presented in the controversial “New Energies” exhibition in 2001, Klaranze Okhide, a Nigerian Visual Artist and Educator and Dr Lasisi Lamidi, of Sculpture from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Essien was a founding member of the famous AKA Circle of Exhibiting Artists which included other stalwarts such as El Anatsui, Bona Ezeudu, Obiora Anidi and the late great Okpu Eze.

Often mistaken for Nsikak Essien, former Editor of National Concord, Essien the Editor posted this on Facebook on Thursday, “Artist Nsikak Essien was studying at IMT in Enugu at about the same time I was studying at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is one of the best fine artists in the country. As Editor some people mistook me for him and vice versa. A few even visited me in Concord newspapers office in Ikeja, expecting to see him.

“Just about six months ago someone phoned to inquire if I were the fine artist. Sadly, both of us had never met but we spoke on telephone about twice. The sad story is that he passed on some hours ago. As usual some friends think I am the one. I mourn the loss of my namesake. May his maker take back his soul. I am alive and well. My maker has not called me home yet. Rest in peace my namesake. Amen.”

The tributes are pouring in for a master painter, teacher, and a generous-spirited man. He leaves a void.

Adieu, Essien, the artist.

Why Gov. Ganduje deserves more than N30Bn


Without intending to do so, Ganduje has raised questions on accounting for federal funds that have been given to Lagos for combating the Coronavirus, and the indices for the allocations.

GOVERNOR Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has been treated unfairly in the dispersal of federal funds for tackling the Coronavirus pandemic. The statistics support his claims, his rights to get a slice of the federal pie. A very considerate man, he is asking for parity in status with Lagos that got an initial N10 billion, another N5 billion, and more billions from private companies that appeared to be waiting for the virus to introduce them to meaningful investments in corporate social responsibility.

His troubles began with public outrage over unconfirmed number of people that had died and were dying in Kano. The concerns came mainly from publicly shared videos and pictures of the toing and froing from Kano’s major cemeteries. Wearied grave diggers made the first complaints. These were not official since they were not directed at anyone in authority to act on.. Moreover, it was not in their place to notify government that something was wrong with Kano. The silence that enveloped the deaths therefore continued.

When Governor Ganduje eventually spoke up, he flatly denied that there were deaths in the numbers quoted. He did not give his own numbers. Again, and stunningly (without an investigation), he denied that the deaths could be Covid19-related. These explanations however did not matter; people were more interested in stopping the deaths and how to. Who wanted to know what was killing people unless their interest was on how to stop it?

Governor Ganduje then asked that money be given to Kano State – to fight a strange ailment that nobody knew anything about. The response to his request ignited a great debate over who has been mismanaging the ailment – coronavirus or other – that afflicted Kano and was killing people.

The blame sharing went on for a little longer before Kano came under proper control of measures to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus.

Gov. Ganduje

A very considerate man, he is asking for parity in status with Lagos that got an initial N10 billion, another N5 billion, and more billions from private companies that appeared to be waiting for the virus to introduce them to meaningful investments in corporate social responsibility.

He however could not lay hands on the billions of Naira that he targeted.

Ganduje seems not to be liked very much in Kano. If money was what he wanted, Kano’s billionaires would have readily splashed it on the city. The billionaires however had concerns that they never publicly stated. Aliko Dangote, a Kano indigene and the richest man in Africa, did not give cash to Gov. Ganduje cash. Instead, among other donations, he used his Foundation to outfit a 125-bed hospital at the General Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano as an Isolation Centre. Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu (of BUA Group) donated more than N4 billion to the Federal Government to support the fight, with instructions that N2 billion be specifically tied to efforts to curb the spread of the virus in Kano. His insisted that a team that includes the President Task Force on Covid-19 should manage the funds. He could not hand the cash to the Governor. President Buhari toed a similar line by not doling out cash to the State Government either.

If you are looking for a reason for Ganduje’s well-placed anger and righteous indignation which remains unaddressed, there you have it. When it mattered the most, he single-handedly delivered Kano for Buhari’s second term, overcoming a formidable opposition mounted by his former godfather, Dr. Rabi’u Kwankwaso.  Ganduje delivered 1,464,768 votes to Buhari’s APC while former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of PDP polled a miserable 391,593 votes of the 1,964,751 votes announced; Buhari beat Atiku in Kano by 1.07m votes. Impressive. Thus, it is reasonable that the man who pulled in the fantastic votes would not expect to be treated like Buhari’s famous five-percenters. With this result in mind, you will appreciate his anger that Lagos, which split the Buhari-Atiku votes in an annoying 56:44 ratio was being favoured over and above Kano which delivered almost 80:20 in favour of Buhari. What an injustice.

Ganduje has put up a strong defense in a Channels TV interview: Kano needed Lagos kind of allocation being the most populous State in Nigeria (Lagos is the most populous); Kano requires testing centres for its 44 Local Government Areas far more than Lagos which has only 20; Kano needed to pay voluntary healthcare workers engaged to support full time health personnel; and Kano needed to procure Personal Protective Equipment, PPE; and open up more testing and isolation centres.

Kano's COVID-19 Mess - 2: Dangerous Missteps of Ganduje - THISDAYLIVE

Ganduje has become a political orphan. He is out of favour with Kwankwaso, his erstwhile godfather. He is no longer useful to the President possibly because there will be no Third Term. Kano’s elite class, given a chance, would treat an Almajari better than him. He is also in a frosty relationship with his fellow northern Governors.

The Federal Government said it would not give him a dime. It must be a shocker for Ganduje who had hitherto constituted himself into a chief announcer for fantastic numbers of Covid-19 positive cases in his State, not minding that weeks back, he was emphatic that whatever was causing frenetic activities in the graveyards of Kano was not the deadly virus.

Ganduje has become a political orphan. He is out of favour with Kwankwaso, his erstwhile godfather. He is no longer useful to the President, essentially because there will be no Third Term. Kano’s elite class, given a chance, would treat an Almajari better than him. He is also in a frosty relationship with his fellow northern Governors. For more than a year Governors in the North had been weighing in on how to abolish the Almajari system. In the midst of the pandemic, Ganduje began repatriating the Almajiri in Kano to their “parents” in northern states. He has been bashed for this move which some have tied to the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases across the core North. He carried out this unilateral action, not minding that he could be in bigger trouble if Kano-born Almajari in other states were to be returned; the numbers could overwhelm.

Ganduje’s theatrics raise two crucial questions. Could he have been treated this way if a general election was by the corner? Why is what is good for Lagos bad for Kano? Without intending to do so, Ganduje has raised questions on accounting for federal funds that have been given to Lagos for combating the Coronavirus, and the indices for the allocations.

OUK: Supreme Court Decision has precedent


The Supreme Court decided last Friday that Senator Uzor Orji Kalu, Chief Whip of the Senate, was wrongly jailed. It was a major knockdown. The Supreme Court released him 17 days after he spent his 60th birthday in Kuje Prison, his home in the past five months. Also freed were Ude Udeogu, Director of Finance at Government House, Umuahia, in the years that Orji allegedly pillaged the coffers of the State to the tune of N7.1 billion, and Kalu’s company Slok.

The court ordered a re-trial. The kernel of the judgment was that Justice Idris was a Justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Amina Augie explained that the declaration was on the ground that Justice Mohammed Idris was already a Justice of the Court of Appeal, as at the time he delivered the judgment sentencing the appellants. He held that a Justice of the Court of Appeal cannot operate as a judge of the Federal High Court. The apex court, therefore, ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case for trial.

A 41-year-old precedent exists for the decision of the Supreme Court. Obianwuna Ogbunyiya and five others were involved in a land dispute in Aboh Ogidi Anambra State against Obi Okudo and others which went through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. Mr. Philip Justice Nnaemeka-Agu delivered a judgment in favour of the respondents on the 17 June 1977 in favour of Okudo as the owner of the land.

Ogbunyiya appealed, stating that the trial judge had no jurisdiction having been elevated to the Court of Appeal. They produced a copy of the official Gazette of the Federal Republic of Nigeria No. 48 of 6 October 1977 from which he read from the Bar, a Government Notice No 1258 at page 1478 issued under the seal of the then Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria in which it was stated that the Supreme Military Council acting after consultation with the Advisory Judicial Committee has appointed Mr. Philip Nnaemeka-Agu a Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal with effect from the 15 June 1977.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient.

 However, the Supreme Court in suit SC.13/1979b settled on 5 July 1979, allowed the appeal on the grounds that Justice Nnaemeka-Agu could not have descended from the Court of Appeal to handle a case at the High Court.

F.R.A. William S.A.N with him C. Ofodile S.A.N and Mrs. Nzeakor for Ogbunyiya while A. Lardner S.A.N with him G. Ezeuko appeared for Okudo.

As in the Kalu’s case, the Supreme Court ordered that the judgments of both the Federal Court of Appeal on the 9th day of March, 1979 in Suit FCA/E/135/78 and the High Court of Anambra State of the 25th day of June, 1976, in Suit 0/71/58 together with costs awarded in each case against the appellants, be and are hereby set aside.

It ordered that claims of the Respondents (as Plaintiffs) against the Appellants (as Defendants) in Suit 0/71/58 be heard de novo (afresh) in the High Court of Anambra State holden at Onitsha.

Celebrations have ensued over the Senator’s success, at third attempt, to gain freedom. After Justice Muhammed Idris jailed Kalu on 5 December 2019, he was in court on 23 December 2019 asking to be freed. He lost the appeal. That marked the expected celebration of Christmas at home before his people and followers.

Kalu applied for bail on 23 December 2019 on the grounds that he needed medical attention from his herbalist and that his incarceration was affecting his work as Chief Whip of the Senate. The appeal failed. If it had succeeded, Kalu would have been home early enough for the Christmas festivities, and possibly resume at the Senate. Calls are already on for the seat to be declared vacant.

A second appeal on 26 March 2020, on the jurisdiction of the court that jailed him, also collapsed. A victory would have been celebrated into his birthday on 21 April in a more befitting setting than the confines of Kuje, still Nigeria’s most modern prison.

Kalu’s journey to jail was long and lonely and his flaunted his association with the Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, with whom he had been room-mates – during Kalu’s contested studentship at the University of Maiduguri – as if it was the shield from the darts with which EFCC has chased him for 12 years, failed to save him.

Kalu fled abroad in October 2018 when the matter came up for hearing. Papers that he filed, pictures of medical equipment plugged into him, media stories that he almost passed on never impressed Justice Mohammed Idris who wanted to go on with the case that had been making rounds of court rooms since 2007.

When he was jailed on 5 December 2019, he was Chief Whip of the Senate, Danbaiwan-Hausa, Gifted Son of Hausa Kingdom, a title he took from the Emir of Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, in 2018.  Kalu was jailed for 12 years, as if he was serving a year for every year the trial lasted.

Kalu is expectedly happy. He released a statement to mark the occasion. He said his five months offered invaluable lessons on Nigeria, the peoples, the justice system.  He thanked the Nigerian Correctional Service for professionalism and sincere humanity it showed him while he lived in Kuje.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in a statement said the judgment was unfortunate. It said it was a technical ambush against the trial of the former governor. EFCC said it was ready to restart the corruption trials.

Kalu would cherish his freedom no matter how long it lasts. EFCC was in court with him for 12 years before it got the conviction that got a five-month stay in prison. He has declared his interest in returning to the Senate quickly. There are no hurdles for him in this regard as the Senate President never declared his seat vacant.

Those who say the law is an ass should also look at how some people ride the ass. Kalu’s lawyers went to great lengths to ferret this legal precedent that was in their favour.  

OUK’s First 100 Days In Jail


Today marks 100 days of the Abia State former Governor being in jail. He is in the early days of serving his 12-year term.

Time really flies. Nigerians have been without Orji Uzor Kalu for 100 days and only a few noticed.

All his calculations pointed to possibilities of Kalu being saved at the last moment. He too appeared to have thought the trial was a formality. Had the case not run for 12 years?

A Federal High Court in Lagos on 5 December 2019 sentenced Kalu to 12 years’ imprisonment for N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering. Kalu, who arrived the court with all the glory and glamour of the Chief Whip of the Senate, left from the court to the prison in Ikoyi, in such ordinariness that he lost a sense of the environment, asking the warders where they were taking him.

He was later moved to Kuje, the prison in Abuja.

He wiped tears from his eyes as the meaning of the unexpected verdict hit him. The judge had not even finished reading his judgement. An important personality had been reduced to an important prisoner.

Many did not believe it. Neither did Kalu as the warders led him out of the court.

Back in his native Igbere, many thought it was a joke until he did not return for the Christmas celebrations to hold court in his expansive country home, famous for its extensive grounds and the artistry that went into executing it. Their delayed acceptance of the verdict still spawned fresh myths about Kalu, among them, he would be home soon.

While Kalu and his company were found guilty of all the 39 counts, Udeh Jones Udeogu, Director of Finance at Government House, Umuahia, during Kalu’s tenure, was convicted on 34 counts and sentenced to 10 years. Slok Nigeria Limited, the court ordered, should be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

Justice Mohammed Idris said Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had proved that the trio conspired to divert N7.65 billion from the treasury of the Abia State Government. He said that money laundering, which was the major crime in the counts, was a serious crime. He called it an anti-human crime.

The total number of years for the 39 counts against Kalu was 133 years, but he would serve 12 years as they run concurrently.

Kalu made spirited efforts to upturn the verdict on appeal. His grounds included that he needed medical attention from his herbalist. He also claimed that his absence was affecting his work as Chief Whip of the Senate.

The Court of Appeal decided that Kalu had to remain in jail.

It had been a year of mixed fortunes for Kalu who returned to more political reckoning after winning the Abia North senatorial seat in a contentious affair that the Court of Appeal resolved in his favour on 8 November 2019. Less than a month after, he was jailed in a case that began in 2007, when Kalu left office as Governor of Abia State.

His rising political star was eclipsed so suddenly that it tasked belief. The almighty OUK, as his followers amiably call him, could not be one bound for jail. He had made the right political investments, it seemed. Joining the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was one of his considered strategies for surviving in the political terrain that had seen him leave the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He made many futile attempts to return.

All his calculations pointed to possibilities of Kalu being saved at the last moment. He too appeared to have thought the trial was a formality. Had the case not run for 12 years?

The 5 December 2019 conviction of Orji Uzor Kalu remains a shock. More shocking is that he has remained in jail for 100 days and counting, in sparse settings, confined space, no private jet, and curtailed liberties.

Any lessons for anyone from the times and travails of Orji Uzor Kalu?

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The Dubai Birthday Bash: Points of Order, Mr. Speaker


No one disputes that the older Gbajabiamila, first Chair of Surulere Local Government Area – the constituency the son represents – deserves a birthday bash. The contention is the content and context of the celebration.

ORDINARILY, there is nothing wrong about Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila celebrating birthdays wherever he pleases. But Femi Gbajabiamila, as he is more famously know, is the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, the fourth in the nation’s power pecking order, and  Member of the House of Representatives since 2003. In that stretch, he was Minority Leader of the House for eight years before he became Speaker in June 2019.

There is nothing ordinary about him anymore though he seems to be the only one not to have realised this. It shouldn’t come to him as a surprise that Nigerians are still in shock at the news that he was hosting a week-long 90th birthday anniversary for his mother Alhaja Lateefat Olufunke Gbajabiamila.  

No one disputes that the older Gbajabiamila, first Chair of Surulere Local Government Area, the constituency the son represents, deserves a birthday bash. The contention is the content and context of the celebration. The Speaker’s defence of the celebration failed woefully to understand the feelings of Nigerians about extravagance in the midst of the grinding poverty that is hurting Nigerians.

A previous birthday party put Mr. Gbajabiamila in the news two years ago. Though he was not the Speaker at the time, few would forget the golden-plated G-Wagon jeep that he gave his wife for her 50th . The number plate was


Many writers spent weeks speculating on the cost of both the vehicle and the haute couture attire that the Gbajabiamilas wore to the occasion. Some of the figures mentioned as the costs of the items were too outrageous to bear repeating here.

Once again, we are back to calculating what could have been spent on the Dubai birthday celebration of his mother. Mr. Speaker insists that it was a purely private family affair with a few friends in attendance. The fact that no figures were released for attendance weakened the denial that over 300 guests were ferried to Dubai for the bash.

As he did before, emphases have again been made that public funds were not used in hosting the party. Mr. Speaker’s understanding of how the public sees public funds may be central to the disagreements that have arisen over this.

Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of the House of Representatives is a public figure who is maintained at great costs from the public purse. The concepts of these costs vary and could include trips with official vehicles, including aircrafts from the presidential fleet, and security provided at costs to the public.

Thus, being a public officer means that he is expected to use these services in manners that align with public perception of the conduct of public officers in their various capacities. If Mr. Speaker is impressed by this argument, he is yet to show it.

The points of order that Mr. Speak has to note are –

You are is too public to be private

Gbajabiamila has seen 17 years in the House of Representatives. There are few things about him that are still private, and none of them was an issue in the outrage about the birthday celebration of his mother. If he understands how very public he is, it will help in the manner he conducts himself, going forward.

Sensitivities, sensibilities

When you serve the public, there are expectations that you would have a feel of what citizens go through in the race for survival. Times are so tough that the public has no sympathetic ear for explanations from public officials who hold ground-breaking parties. There is an increasing distance between the public and those who serve them. The public sometimes think these celebrations stamp the decisions of public officials to do as they please regardless of what the public feels. People are suffering without any hope in sight. Hunger, insecurity, illnesses, unemployment are ravaging. Mr. Speaker is living above these circumstances, and flaunting it.

What is it about birthdays?

Two controversial birthday parties in two years mark the Gbajabiamila family as show-offs. The loudness of these parties remains the contentious matter. People know the costs of these celebrations – they count guests, they remember travel costs and accommodation. They arrive at their own conclusions hence these contentions. Whether the resources are pooled from family members or friends, the Speaker would not escape being seen as the one who sponsored them.

Anything the matter with Dubai?

Is there anything that commends Dubai to Nigeria’s big men and women? What would have been wrong if the celebration was in Lagos and the billions of Naira exported abroad is spent locally? Should Alhaja’s friends and families not have been around her as she celebrates?

Time is ripe for Mr. Speaker to know that the public – including the voters in Surulere I Constituency that he represents – have higher expectations from him. Birthday parties are not among the expectations.

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Revolution, all over the streets, without Sowore, but it’s just a vehicle!


DOES anyone still remember why security agencies are holding Omoyole Sowore, publisher, and presidential candidate in the 2019 election? Sometimes it gets so confusing, especially at this moment when it appears that he is detained to make the point that anyone can be held, without consequences.

Sowore started a new hash tag, #RevolutionNow, urging Nigerians to commence protests. It could be said that his detention was about that call. DSS considered the calls vexatious and stopped them by arresting the convener. After four months of detention by the Department of State Services (DSS), which procured a court order to keep him beyond what the law allows, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu ordered his release on 6 November 2019. The DSS and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, had charged Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, of treasonable felony, before the judge.

The order was observed in the breach, even after the stiff conditions attached to it were eventually met. Sowore was re-arrested by the DSS at the Federal High Court in Abuja on 6 December – less than 24 hours after his release from a four-month incarceration.

Mr. Marshal Abubakar, Sowore’s lawyer, in affidavit, averred that efforts to release Sowore have been futile. Abubakar told Justice Inyang Ekwo that Justice Ojukwu, on 6 November 2019, ordered the release of both Sowore and his co-defendant after their bail conditions were met.

Here’s how he put it.

“That on Thursday, December 5, 2019, this honourable court presided over by Honourable Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu chastised the frivolous and vexatious conduct of the respondents herein” including their “attempt to sit as an appellate court over the order of release made on November 6, 2019 and awarded a cost of N100,000 against the respondent.

“That this honourable court in the course of the proceedings of Thursday December 5, 2019, mandated the 1st respondent to release the applicant within 24 hours.

“That the applicant was released on the said December 5, 2019 at about 7pm.

“That on Friday, December 6, 2019, officials of the State Security Service under the command of the 1st respondent invaded the court.

“That on Friday December 6, 2019, the respondents stormed the court room number 7 of this Honourable Court presided over by Honourable Justice ljeoma Ojukwu in the course of proceedings to effect re-arrest of the applicant without an order of court or an arrest warrant to that effect.”

Justice Ekwo adjourned the case till December 23 for hearing notices to be served on the Director-General of DSS, and the Attorney General of the Federation.

While the fiery exchanges are going on in court, revolution is on the streets. Yes, some vans called Revolution are on the streets. They have been seen in Abuja, and some parade Abuja vehicle registration numbers. Obviously, their message is different from Sowore’s. Theirs could be about the difference the vehicles would make to the automobile industry.

Revolution… unhindered

How could Sowore’s “offence” be a rewarding enterprise for others? Would the security agencies stop the use of the vehicles for the placards they are? What would be the official reason for arresting them?

Years back, at the height of General Sani Abacha’s regime, some vehicles appeared on Lagos streets with this sticker, Don’t steal, government hates competition! I thought of what fate awaited their owners if security agencies thought they were sending a message. In that case, it was a sticker, which they could have been told to remove.

Is it fair to hold Sowore for #RevolutionNow when the other Revolution roams the streets unhindered? Freedom of speech breaks new frontiers, daily, mostly unintended.

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Shouldn't we apologise to Amaechi?


ROTIMI Amaechi,  Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years, two-term Governor of Rivers State and second term Minister of Transport, deserves an apology from Nigerians who don’t know that Daura is in Nigeria. He is understandably angry.

If they knew that Daura was in Nigeria, if they knew what he knew, if they knew why Daura was chosen to bear the burden of a new university for Nigerians, they should be falling over themselves to praise the Minister’s sagacity.

Amaechi knew they would not applaud his wisdom for locating the university in Daura, one of the two cities in Nigeria that has produced a military Head of State, as well as the President, with the added distinction that in each case, the same person was in charge under different titles, Olusegun Obasanjo from Ogun State, and Muhammadu Buhari of Katsina State.

As an aside, the similarities include the fact that under the leadership of the duo, there were efforts to extend their tenure to an extra term that the Constitution does not permit. To their eternal credit, both shut down the moves to grant them the extra tenure.

One day, we would come to the understanding that Kajola and Daura are in States with illustrious personalities, and that though we were not taught that personalities were one of the factors in the location of a business, an Honourable Minister has cleared our ignorance.

Back to the main business. Rt. Honourable Minister Amaechi chose the groundbreaking ceremony of the Transportation University in Daura, to lament his woes at the hands of Nigerians who have questioned the choice of Daura for the project. He explained that the university was his “attempt at responding to the question of how to maintain and manage all the infrastructure we are building and realised that education is key.” Amaechi, a great patriot, spoke for the attention of President Buhari, who may not know what the Minister was going through with unappreciative Nigerians.

He told the story of the three conditions he gave the companies for the rail contracts to be signed.

“I engaged the companies; the first engagement was when they were constructing Lagos-Ibadan. They were not so keen at spending their funds to build a university for Nigeria until I refused to sign the contract for the Lagos to Ibadan railway,” he said.

 “The first thing is to take our children to China and train them by giving them a first degree in railway technology. Today as I speak, 60 of our children are in their second year and we thank CCECC and 90 are on their way to China this week, making it 150.

“The second is that, if we must sign the purchase of locomotives in China, they must build a factory where we can construct for coaches, locomotives and wagon and today at Kajola that factory is being constructed.

“Finally, I insisted on the University of Transportation and today we are here for the groundbreaking of the University and for all we are grateful to CCECC and the Chinese government.”

The choice of Kajola as the fame factory for the rail equipment is another coincidence. Kajola is in Ogun State, from where Obasanjo and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hail.

Kajola was the plank of Amaechi’s defence of the university in Daura.

“When we sited the factory at Kajola, there was no noise, nobody debated about it, nobody abused us for it unlike the site for the university,” Amaechi lamented before the President in Daura.

A furious Amaechi understands that, as Minister, it was beyond Nigerians to scrutinise his work. Nigerians are slow to understand that an Hon. Minister answers to the President, not to Nigerians, not to critics, not even to his or her own conscience. If he or she pleases the President, he or she has done well.

The critics can build their own rails, locate their own universities wherever they please, but these resources that come under the management of Amaechi, as the Minister of Transport, must be dispensed as the Hon. Minister deems fit. And who can fault his logic?

“Daura is in Nigeria, it is not in any other part of the world. It is not in the Niger Republic, Biafra or Mali, it is in Nigeria. So, what is wrong in siting the University of Transportation in Daura? I have no regret siting this university where I have sited it, it is not because I want to get any gain,” Amaechi said.

Anyone who missed the explanation for the location of the University of Transportation should read Amaechi intently. With the locomotive factory in Kajola, without objection, the university had to be in Daura, without objection.

If he had given us this reason, we would have understood why our Minister of Transport made the decisions. But who are we, ordinary Nigerians, to question the decision of the Honourable Minister of Transport?

One day, we would come to the understanding that Kajola and Daura are in States with illustrious personalities, and that though we were not taught that personalities were one of the factors in the location of a business, an Honourable Minister has cleared our ignorance

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